Walmart’s potential Humana deal could connect your health insurance with the produce aisle

What does retailer Walmart Inc., which has built a reputation for ruthless cost-cutting and obsessive customer analytics, want with health insurer Humana Inc.? The two are in early acquisition talks, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.

Like other recent health care pairings, the deal — should it go through — marks a pursuit of big data across industries.

Customer data, a longtime preoccupation of retailers, is increasingly seen by health care executives as central to containing rising health care costs.

Combined, this type of big data could be used to better sell Walmart’s WMT, +1.37% retail products and services and manage the financial risks of Humana’s HUM, +0.48% health plans.

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